This show was part of the The Music Network tour featuring, Julie Fowlis, Kris Drever, Pádraig Rynne, Aoife Ní Bhriain. Music Network is an organisation that organises nationwide tours of Ireland with musicians that they invite over especially (trad, folk, world and classical). Often they bring groups of musicians together specifically to get them to collaborate. In their programme they liken it to matchmaking.
I wonder whether it is skillful choices or luck as to whether these unique partnerships work out. I have been to quite a few Music Network concerts over the years and the groupings are nearly always good, sometimes great, but it can also happen that individually brilliant musicians actually are not that suited to sharing the stage.
This criticism could not at all be fired at tonight's line up, which combined the talents of Scots Gaelic singer Julie Fowlis, singer/songwriter Kris Drever from Orkney, young concertina player extraordinaire Pádraig Rynne and Dublin violinist Aoife Ní Bhriain.
The quartet met initially in Inverness to get to know each other and develop a repertoire for this nine date tour. My options were either going to the second show, in the Sugar Club, a lovely venue a stone's throw from where I live, or to go to the last show at the Pavilion, a sympathetic theatre with nonetheless terribly cramped seating out in Dún Laoghaire. I went for the latter, since trad collaborations do get better with time.
Julie Fowlis was my main reason for going and once the musicians took the stage I recognised Pádraig Rynne from Triad (with Dónal Lunny and Sylvain Barou). Kris Drever I have seen him many times as he tends to guest with musicians I like. Aoife Ní Bhriain was the surprise of the night. She plays both traditional and classical violin and as per the programme she has played with many renowned orchestras and won numerous competitions.
Aoife's solo slot got the biggest cheer of the night. She talked about a project she has been involved in featuring songs collected by a Canon Goodman from Dingle. This man compiled a manuscript collection of traditional tunes that is now kept at Trinity College. These are often very well-known songs, that have been preserved in earlier, often slightly different versions. They played a variant of 'The dawning of the day'.
Both Kris Drever and Pádraig Rynne are musicians known to work with loops and other trickery, but for this show these gadgets were left out. Pádraig impressed with his virtuoso concertina playing, including some tunes he composed himself, with his skillful accompaniments and also his sense of humour. I liked Kris' guitar playing. 'Capernaum' (“Edinburgh, Edinburgh”) was his standout song. Julie Fowlis sang backing vocals to some of Kris' songs. It is curious to hear Julie sing in English, given that I have many CDs with her singing exclusively in Gaelic.
Julie's songs were fabulous. She has a beautiful, crystal clear voice and nice stories to go with her songs. She played tin whistle and the shruti box; a smaller, more portable type of harmonium, which she travels with so as to have more space for shoes in her suitcase, she said! Though its drone is similar to that of the pipes, it is actually an Indian instrument. Highlights of Julie's performances were a two part song about seals and the encore, which was some of the traditional mouth music that she is most famous for.
All in all a fantastic night of music. There were signs saying that the performance would be recorded. I wonder whether this is just for the Pavilion's archives or with a view of making this available to the public?